the change of american society

Since the colonies were established, those living there never did quite agree with what the British were trying to enforce on them. After many years of new laws, acts, enforcements, changes in politics, slavery, etc; the colonists decided it was time to declare independence from the British. This led to the American Revolution, in which lives of all involved changed dramatically. Women suddenly were considered to have important roles in every aspect of the goings-on in their daily life.

Many people such as Abigail Adams and Molly Wallace suddenly had things to say and had quite an influence on people. Deborah Sampson and Mary Silliman are others who showed to have a large effect during this time. Battles and bloodshed occurred every day. The way government was handled was changed (natural aristocracy) and the economics changed drastically: i. e. the costs for war, trade, and managing a new country. They way people viewed class, gender, etc had changed as well.

Many new documents were drafted and established to help keep the country strong and free from British influence (Treaty of Paris, Articles of Confederation, Virginia plan, etc. ). The American Revolution changed almost every aspect of the American society; however, the three areas most drastically changed were politics, economics, and social perceptions/ideas. One of the three areas most changed by the war was politics. Whereas before most government officials had been appointed due to money or family ties, now were appointed based on “natural aristocracy”.

This was the idea that those who had demonstrated fitness for government through personal accomplishments should be elected in. Wealth still played a part in the election process, but those who flaunted their money or relied on it often were not elected to office, completely opposite of how government had been made up before. Those who had proved their worthiness for government needed to be able to govern the people fairly; “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition…….

It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angles, no government would be necessary….. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself” (Doc I). Another major change was that foundations were laid for a Republican government.

Eleven of the thirteen states maintained a bicameral legislature, which means two-chambers. The lower chamber consisted of an elected assembly, and the upper chamber consisted of a council that was appointed by the governor. One other changed in and of itself was that Americans gained their independence. They no longer wanted slavery, strict regulations, etc that had been imposed by the British; they wanted all British influence gone. “Drive far from you every baneful wretch who wished to see you fettered with the chains of tyranny.

Send them where they may enjoy their beloved slavery to perfection- send them to the island of Britain; there let them drink the cup of slavery and eat the bread of bitterness all the days of their existence- there let them drag out a painful life, despised and accursed by those mean whose cause they have had the wickedness to espouse. Never let them return to this happy land- never let them taste the sweets of that independence which they strove to prevent. Banishment, perpetual banishment, should be their lot” (Doc B).

Later, congress took a weakened version of John Dickinson’s draft proposal for the constitution and made the Articles of Confederation. Now, the national government was a single-chambered Congress, and rules were enforced within this to provide regulations. It also stated that each individual state reserved rights to its sovereignty, freedom, and independence. Those who drafted it also wanted all people to have the right to what they say, what they believe in, and the right to decide how they wanted their state/country to be run. Men were now free to openly worship whatever they believed. Be it enacted by the general assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever…. but that all men shall be free to process, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion” (Doc D). Another area changed within the American society was economics. The Revolution caused economics within the American society to change.

Due to the war, many challenges arose for the Confederation. One was what the country was not financially sound. The war cost taxpayers $160 million. Many were nervous now that they no longer could rely on the trade onnections set up by the British. These fears were often taken out on government, and many wanted more equal aspects such as land, laws, etc. “With regard to the tumults in my native state, which you inquire about, I wish I could that report had exaggerated them. It is too true Sir, that they have been carried to so alarming a height as to stop the courts of justice in several counties. Ignorant, restless desperados, without conscience or principles, have led a deluded multitude to follow their standard, under pretense of grievances which have no existence but in their imaginations.

Some of them were crying out for a paper currency, some an equal distribution of property” (Doc G). Another change in the economic effect on society was slavery. While slavery had been a key factor in earning money (tobacco farms, etc. ), many believed it needed to be abolished. Some areas/states decided to get rid of it, however still allowing persecution to all who had attempted to escape from other areas where slavery was allowed. In the areas were slavery no longer existed, they found ways to continue to keep the economy going. “Article 6th.

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid” (Doc H). Now, to pay for the war/lack of labor in some parts/keep the country financially afloat, government borrowed funds from other countries, and printed its own paper money (Continentals).

However, this led to inflation. Robert Morris, a merchant, proposed that states perform a collection of national import duty of 5 percent. It was believed that this would finance the congressional budget and guarantee interest payments on the war while still being able to compensate veterans and creditors. However, due to the Articles, it was rejected and therefore did not work. The Revolution had changed America’s society of one that used to be financially stable to one that was trying desperately to recover from the debts of the war.

One of the most interesting changes in the American society was that of the social ideas/perceptions during and after the war, mainly with women. One of the most important changes in America’s society was the social changes, especially with women. Due to the war, many questions concerning race, class, and gender, as well as women and their importance were discussed. Women’s support of colonial resistance broadened with their activities to help during the war. Many became “camp followers” and did the cooking, laundering, and nursing for the wounded.

Others, such as Deborah Sampson, disguised themselves as men and fought in the Revolution. Most women, however, remained at home, where they managed every aspect of the household and business. The “traditional female role” changed dramatically. Women such as Mary Silliman tended to the children, oversaw the servants and slaves, and ran a commercial farm; all the while trying to get her husband to be able to return home after being seized by the British. This is what most women did then, which led to them having more responsibility and being viewed as a more important aspect in ones life than they had before.

They managed the business and household farms on their own, as depicted by the drawing of a women tending to the farm and the other drawing of a women overseeing a slaves work on the family farm (Doc A/ Doc F). Now, the gender relations that colonists had once perceived existed were called into question. Women wanted to be considered equal to men; the “domestic situation” between the two genders seemed unfair now that women were the ones who were keeping everything running while the men were at war.

People such as Abigail Adams and Molly Wallace believed women should be considered to have more importance than they had before the war. They hoped that when creating the new laws/government, those doing it would “remember the ladies”. The revolution had caused women the desire to have a voice, to be represented and considered worthy. “What then must my situation be, when my sex, my youth and inexperience all conspire to make me tremble at the task which I have undertaken? But the friendly encouragement, which I behold in almost every countenance, enables me to overcome difficulties, that would otherwise be insurmountable.

With some, however, it has been made a question, whether we ought ever to appear in so public a manner. Our natural timidity, the domestic situation to which, by nature and custom we seem destined, are urged as arguments against what I now have undertaken: Many sarcastical observations have been handed out against female pratory: But what do they amount? Do they not plainly inform us, that, because we are females, we ought therefore to be deprived of what is perhaps the most effectual means of acquiring a just, natural and graceful delivery? No one will pretend to deny, that we should be taught to read in the best manner. And if to read, why not speak? ” (Doc J). Women wanted to be heard, and they believed that they deserved to be. While no laws were established to help make this desire a reality of the now changed American society, it did help people to start calling into question that of a women’s roles in the new republican government. All in all, the Revolution caused changes in America’s society that would help to shape the new country for years to come.

Through new political measures, such as natural aristocracy, reforms for currency (continentals), and the questioning of social order (mainly for women), America’s society began to develop. Many influential people such as Robert Morris, Abigail Adams, Molly Wallace, etc also helped to reform this now new free and independent country. Women gained new important roles, the government was leaning towards governing for the people, and a once financially stable country under British rule was now one struggling to get out of debt, leading them to come up with new ways to stipulate the economy.

Documents such as the Treaty of Paris, Articles of the Confederation, etc, also developed as a result of the Revolution in order to keep the new country running. Although many factors of the Revolution helped to alter America’s society, changes in politics, economics, and social ideas/perceptions were the most effectual and drastic changes, ones that altered the country completely and started new ideas that would influence our country for years to come.


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